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开发者探讨曾经火爆的塔防游戏在F2P环境里的生存空间

发布时间:2017-11-08 08:54:12 Tags:,

原作者:Matt Suckley 译者:Willow Wu

有谁还记得塔防游戏吗?

2000年末到2010年初这个时期的的App Store是由Fieldrunners,Kingdom Rush,还有Bloons TD这类的游戏占领的,除此之外还有各种在线塔防网游,这些游戏都不会很难,是绝佳的休闲之作。

但是到了现在,新塔防游戏,尤其是知名度非常高的塔防游戏在移动平台上真的是很少见了。

2016年十月,EA发行了该年的首款《植物大战僵尸》游戏,上次的大动作还是2013年的《植物大战僵尸2》。

Field runners Attack(from pocketgamer.biz)

Field runners Attack(from pocketgamer.biz)

他们之前就是靠塔防游戏名利双收,然而这次他们却放弃了这个类型,转而制作《植物大战僵尸:英雄》,一个集换式卡牌游戏。

看起来EA也是没有要重拾塔防游戏的意思,从《植物大战僵尸:英雄》官网的FAQ板块(现已删除)也能知道EA的想法就是“如果玩家想要玩新的塔防游戏请去下载或者更新《植物大战僵尸2》”。

然后玩家就真的这么做了。《植物大战僵尸:英雄》的发行把它的塔防前作再次推进下载榜单前100,这可是2015年8月以后的头一遭,而且在100多个国家地区的收益榜中的位置也上升不少。

奄奄一息

很明显,玩家对塔防游戏还是有需求的,但这似乎也没能调动起开发者的热情,他们还是没有制作塔防游戏的打算。

最近的另外一个例子就是Subatomic Studio于2016年12月发行的Fieldrunners Attack!,自2012年Fieldrunners 2发布以后,这个系列就没有什么动作了,Fieldrunners Attack!是此系列的最新作。

从它的名字你就可以看出它并不是一个非常传统的塔防游戏。套用Clash of Clans的构架,它是一个可以建设基地的策略游戏,包含防御策略,但不仅仅只有防御。

Fieldrunners Attack!是这个系列中首次采用F2P模式的游戏,而塔防游戏突然失宠的根本原因似乎跟F2P模式脱不了干系。

在移动时代,所有知名的塔防游戏都是付费游戏。其中的原因很简单:塔防游戏的设计是基于传统的闯关模式,难度逐级提升,每个关卡的挑战都有独特的设计,内容有限但是值得反复重玩。

兼容问题

Resolution Games的CEO Tommy Palm在谈到Kingdom Rush Frontierss时说:“每个关卡都有好几种不同的通关方法,这样一来就多了很多很多的乐趣。”

这就是为什么F2P模式行不通的原因。

还有更重要的一个事实:塔防游戏几乎没有什么多余空间去展开metagame的部分(游戏邦注:至少Kingdom Rush和Fieldrunners系列的游戏就是这样),这是成功F2P游戏中不可或缺的元素。
让我们这样想想:在付费游戏Fieldrunners 2发行的同一年,Supercell也做出了Clash of Clans的蓝图:它是一个混合类型的策略手游,其内容兼具攻、守城及养成元素,通过建造基地展现出来。

它所带来的高额收益是前所未有的,有无数玩家对它欲罢不能。要模仿Clash of Clans的核心机制(从广义上)也不怎么难,既然不难做,又好赚钱,自然而然,这类建筑&战斗游戏就成了市面上的主力军,也难怪塔防游戏被人们抛弃。

落后

但并不是每个人都乐见于此。粗略地浏览一下Fieldrunners Attack!的评论你就能看到一堆差评,大部分都是来自玩过整个系列的老粉丝。

“我以为这会是和前作一样的塔防游戏,失望透顶,”这是一条。

“本该是优秀的第三部续作,结果却是个糟糕的游戏。”又是一条。“……就像是山寨版的Clash of Clans。”

这让人不禁对Subatomic和其他处于类似窘境的工作室产生同情。他们想与时俱进,但同时又惹毛了一些忠实玩家。

但是App Annie之前的分析也表明了这游戏在吸引新用户方面也是挺费力的,12月发行之后它在美国iPhone收益榜的最好成绩是排名第605,然后在1月9日的时候就掉到了第1293。

新招数

F2P模式的塔防游戏也不是完全不可行,Outplay Entertainment就是证人之一。

英国当下最大的独立手游工作室,位于敦提市的Eight Pixels Square在今年一月发行了Castle Creeps TD,这是2014年手游Alien Creeps TD的后续作品。Eight Pixels Square也是Raid HQ的开发团队以及拥有者。

谈到F2P模式的塔防游戏,该游戏的制作人Stefan Wittelsburger说“我们想要玩家体验到选对答案、获得胜利的满足感。”

“既然是F2P模式,你就得考虑如何才能留住玩家,难度要设定得当,给玩家一定的机会征服挑战。

“玩家可以升级基地和英雄。游戏中已经具备了推动进程发展的有利条件,因此,额外增加的RPG元素能和F2P模式完美地结合在一起。”

寻找新玩家

但是塔防游戏真的还有市场吗?

“你看看我们的初始数据有多强大,绝对有市场!”Wittelsburger说道。

确实,Castle Creeps TD在发行周就突破了150万下载量,目前也是47个国家中排名第一的策略手游。

自发行以来,它在美国iPhone收益榜上的位置持续稳步上升,目前的排名是第267位。

那么问题来了:现在做塔防游戏的人越来越少,这样对于类似Outplay的工作室来说是不是个好机会?要不要投入更多的人力物力去做塔防游戏?

“我认为产品的革新发展是一件很有趣的事情,最终可能会产生某种有趣的混血品种或者是新的子类型,”Outplay的设计师Ross Stephens是这么说的。

“对于我们来说,这种环境给了我们更多的空间去拓展Creeps系列,把前作Castle Creeps TD塑造得更加完整,同时也能让我们安心地在游戏上做些试验,测试游戏特性,比如说Warlord模式。”

远离城嚣

那么结论是什么?为什么有些开发者不再做塔防游戏了?原因很简单——他们相信做别的游戏可以挣更多钱。

但这并不意味着塔防已死。

总是有玩家喜欢塔防游戏的,现在市场等待你的可是空前大好的机会。如果聪明的话,小型工作室就应该好好利用这个机会。

要打败建筑&战斗类游戏和卡牌收集游戏(CCG)是挺困难的,但是像Subatomic和PopCap这样的工作室也会加入进来,与塔防站在同一阵线。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

Who remembers tower defence?

Titles like Fieldrunners, Kingdom Rush and Bloons TD briefly dominated the young App Store and various online game portals in the late 2000s and early 2010s, offering bite-sized strategy that perfectly suited casual play.

But now, new tower defence games – particularly high-profile ones – are a rare thing indeed on mobile.

In October 2016, EA launched its first Plants vs. Zombies game since Plants vs. Zombies 2 (2013).

But rather than returning to the tower defence genre in which it made its name and enjoyed enormous success, it opted to make Plants vs. Zombies: Heroes – a collectible card game spin-off.

It appears that EA has little desire to return to tower defence either, with a now-removed FAQ section on the PvZ: Heroes website noting that “Players looking for new Tower Defense experiences can download PvZ 2″.

And they did. The launch of Plants vs. Zombies: Heroes actually saw its tower defence predecessor enter the top 100 downloads for the first time since August 2015, as well as leaping ahead more than 100 places in the top grossing charts.

A dying breed

There’s evident demand for tower defence games, then, but that doesn’t seem to make developers any keener to make them.

Another recent example of this is Subatomic Studios’ December 2016 release Fieldrunners Attack!, the latest entry in a series that’s lain dormant since 2012′s Fieldrunners 2.

Fieldrunners Attack!, as the title suggests, isn’t a traditional tower defence game. Instead, it’s a base-building strategy game in the Clash of Clans mould, encompassing defensive strategy, but not exclusively.

It’s also the first Fieldrunners game to adopt a free-to-play model, and it seems that this is the issue at the heart of tower defence’s fall from grace.

All the iconic tower defence titles of the mobile era have been paid games, and it’s easy to see why.

Based on a traditional level-by-level progression, with each stage its own uniquely designed challenge, traditional tower defence is necessarily a finite, yet replayable, experience.

Compatibility issues

“Every level can be completed several times in different modes to create hours and hours of entertainment,” said Resolution Games CEO Tommy Palm of Kingdom Rush Frontiers.

This is simply not how free-to-play games function.

More important, though, is the fact that tower defence games – at least those in the vein of Kingdom Rush and Fieldrunners – have very little scope for an ongoing metagame of the kind necessary to sustain a successful free-to-play game.
Let’s put it this way: in the same year Fieldrunners 2 was launched with its premium price point, Supercell established the blueprint with Clash of Clans for a mobile strategy hybrid that could capture the essence of both defensive and offensive strategy, wrapped in a layer of base-building.

Perhaps more importantly, it boasted unprecedented revenues and player engagement levels. From this perspective, with the formula (in broad strokes) a relatively easy one to replicate, it’s no wonder that tower defence has fallen by the wayside while build and battlers dominate.

Left behind

But not everybody is happy about that. A cursory glance at the reviews for Fieldrunners Attack! reveals a strain of negativity, particularly from series fans.

“I expected this to be tower defence as in prior Fieldrunner [sic] games and have been profoundly disappointed,” reads one.

“Terrible game from what should of [sic] been a brilliant third instalment,” offers another. “[…] A cheap knock-off of [Clash of Clans].”

It’s easy to sympathise with Subatomic and others in a similar position. It’s moved with the market, at the same time alienating some of its core fans.

But early indication from App Annie is that the game’s struggled to engage a new audience too, peaking at #605 in the US iPhone top-grossing charts soon after its December launch and languishing at #1,293 as of January 9th.

New tricks

Free-to-play tower defence is possible, though, and one of the studios proving this is Outplay Entertainment.

Now the UK’s largest independent mobile studio and owner of Raid HQ developer Eight Pixels Square, the Dundee firm launched Alien Creeps TD back in 2014 and, more recently, its follow-up Castle Creeps TD this January.

“We want our players to experience the satisfaction of having made the right choices and obtaining victory,” says the game’s Producer Stefan Wittelsburger of designing F2P tower defence.

“As a free-to-play model, you need to consider elements that keep players engaged and offer an edge to beat the difficulty we’ve set up.

“Leveling up your towers and heroes, by adding additional RPG elements, ties in brilliantly with a free-to-play model, since you are able to provide elements that boost and build your progress.”

Finding an audience

But is the demand still there for tower defence?

“As we can see by our initial huge numbers, absolutely!” Wittelsburger enthuses.

Indeed, Castle Creeps TD racked up 1.5 million downloads over its launch weekend and is currently number one strategy game in 47 countries.

In the US iPhone grossing charts, it’s been steadily growing since launch, currently sitting at a respectable #267.

The question, then, is whether the increasing move away from tower defence offers a greater opportunity for studios like Outplay to pursue it more aggressively.

“I think evolution of titles is incredibly interesting to see, and can lead to some pretty interesting mash-ups and sub genres,” Outplay Designer Ross Stephens considers.

“I think for us, it has given a new scope to expand what the Creeps have to offer past Castle Creeps TD, and maybe given us that security to experiment within the game itself with features such as the Warlord mode levels.”

Away from the crowd

The conclusion, then? As for why some developers are moving away from tower defence, it’s a simple one – they believe they can make more money elsewhere.

That doesn’t mean the genre is dead, however.

There has always been demand for tower defence, and now more than ever there’s opportunity. Smaller studios would be shrewd to make the most of it.

And perhaps, after realising that build-and-battle and CCG aren’t that easy to crack, studios like Subatomic and PopCap will join them.(source:pocketgamer.biz


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